April 15, 2004

Legislative Activity


April 15, 2004

Dear Members of the House Education & Workforce Committee:

We are writing on behalf of the American Advertising Federation (AAF), the American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA), and the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) to express our strong opposition to House Resolution 575. Introduced by Representative Tom Osborne (R-NE), the Resolution asks the National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”) to halt alcohol beverage advertising during radio and television broadcasts of collegiate athletic events. Its sponsors believe this action would reaffirm the college community's commitment to discourage underage drinking. While an admirable goal, we nonetheless urge you to reject this misguided and unnecessary proposal.

The Resolution is based upon the flawed premise that college athletics are broadcast primarily to underage audiences. The facts, however, are diametrically to the contrary. Nielsen Media Research studies indicate that approximately 87% of all college football and basketball television viewers are over the age of 21. This data clearly demonstrates that television and radio and alcoholic beverage advertising during collegiate sporting events is directed to adults.

In fact, alcohol beverage companies take great care to ensure their messages are seen by appropriate audiences.

Last September, the Federal Trade Commission, in its most recent report to Congress on alcohol beverage advertising, noted the great strides the industry has made in the area of “ad placements,” as well as the “added attention to the issue of ad content.” Recently, the alcoholic beverage industry also voluntarily adjusted their self-regulatory code to state that alcohol beverage advertising shall not appear unless at least 70% of the audience is 21 or older.

In addition, the alcohol beverage industry, through initiatives by the Century Council, the Beer Institute, and numerous individual companies, has a long history of public service announcements and other programs designed to discourage the abuse of alcohol and underage consumption.

Surveys have shown that family and friends provide the primary influence on decision by minors to drink. Nevertheless, the advertising community is sensitive to the need to focus messages on adult audiences. The result has been to encourage advertising in times and with themes that are appropriate for adults. To discontinue this advertising during collegiate sports would do a disservice to the vast majority of the audience.

It is certainly the NCAA's right to voluntarily decline to accept advertising that it considers inappropriate or unacceptable. The Congress, on the other hand, should not intervene through legislation or resolutions unless there is a compelling reason to do so. In light of the FTC's reports and the alcohol beverage industry's self-regulatory actions, Resolution 575 not only is unnecessary, but would also unfairly hold college athletics to a rigid, restrictive standard that does not apply to any other programming.

We urge you not to cosponsor House Resolution 575. Thank you for considering our view.

Very truly yours,

Wallace S. Snyder
President & CEO
American Advertising Federation
1101 Vermont Ave, NW, Suite 500
Washington, DC 20005
(202) 898-0089
wsnyder@aaf.org

Richard F. O'Brien
Executive Vice President
American Association of Advertising Agencies
1203 19 th Street, NW , Fourth Floor
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 331-7345
dobrien@aaaadc.org

Daniel L. Jaffe
Executive Vice President
Association of National Advertisers
1120 20 th Street, NW, Suite 520 - S
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 296-1883
djaffe@ana.net

About the American Advertising Federation
As the "Unifying Voice for Advertising," the American Advertising Federation (AAF), headquartered in Washington, D.C., with a Western Region office in Newport Beach, Calif., is the trade association that represents 50,000 professionals in the advertising industry. AAF's 130 corporate members are advertisers, agencies and media companies that comprise the nation's leading brands and corporations. AAF has a national network of 210 ad clubs and connects the industry with an academic base through its 210 college chapters. For more information, visit the AAF's Web site at www.aaf.org.

About the American Association of Advertising Agencies
The American Association of Advertising Agencies (AAAA), founded in 1917, is the national trade association representing the American advertising agency business. Its nearly 500 members, comprised of large multi-national agencies and hundreds of small and mid-sized agencies, maintain 2,000 offices throughout the country. Together, AAAA member advertising agencies account for nearly 80 percent of all national, regional and local advertising placed by agencies in newspapers, magazines, radio and television in the United States . AAAA is dedicated to the preservation of a robust free market in the communication of commercial and noncommercial ideas.

About the Association of National Advertisers
The Association of National Advertisers (ANA) is the industry's premier trade association dedicated exclusively to marketing and brand building. We represent more than 340 companies with over 8,000 brands that collectively spend more than $100 billion annually in marketing communications and advertising. Our members market products and services to both consumers and businesses. More information about our association is available at www.ana.net